Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights
Be sure that you want to give up all your parental rights and obligations before you sign. After you sign, you cannot change your mind.
Talk to an attorney
Relinquishing your parental rights is a serious decision that cannot be changed. The petition is not automatically granted just because the forms are correctly filled out. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. For more information, see our webpage on Finding Legal Help.
Is the child a member of an Indian tribe or eligible for membership in an Indian tribe?
The forms on this webpage may not be used for the relinquishment and termination of parental rights to an Indian child.
Which court has jurisdiction?
If the child is a member of an Indian tribe or eligible for membership in an Indian tribe, the tribal court has jurisdiction. If the child resides on the Reservation or is a ward of the tribal court, only the tribal court has jurisdiction. If the child is a member of an Indian tribe or eligible for membership in an Indian tribe but does not reside on the Reservation and is not a ward of the tribal court, the state court has jurisdiction, but the case must be moved to the tribal court upon request of a party. Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 United States Code Sections 1911-1913 (law.cornell.edu). See also the Department of Human Services (dcfs.utah.gov) website.
Court of Other State
If no court has ever entered a custody or visitation order, file the petition in the state where the child has lived for the most recent six months. If the child is less than six months of age, file the petition in the state where the child has lived since birth. If the child has not lived in any one state for six months or longer, file the petition in the state that is most convenient. The information and forms on this website apply only in the Utah courts.
Utah Juvenile Court
If Utah is the correct state in which to file the petition, file the petition in the juvenile court, unless the voluntary relinquishment and termination of parental rights are part of an adoption proceeding in district court.
File the forms
If a juvenile court already has jurisdiction over the child, file the Petition to Terminate Parental Rights upon Voluntary Relinquishment in that court. Otherwise, file the Petition in the county in which you reside. You will have to pay a fee when you file the forms. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can ask the judge to waive the filing fee by filing an Application and Affidavit for Waiver of Court Fees. You will not have to pay the fee when you file the Petition, but you may have to pay the filing fee after the judge considers your request. For more information, see our webpage on Filing Procedures.
Serving the forms
Once the petition is filed, the clerk will schedule a hearing. If you do not receive notice of the hearing within a week after filing the petition, you should contact the clerk.
Utah Code Section 78A-6-506 requires that at least 10 days before the hearing you serve the notice of the petition and hearing on "the parents, the guardian, the person or agency having legal custody of the child, and to any person acting in loco parentis to the child." You must serve the child's other parent, the child's guardian, if one has been appointed, and whoever has custody of the child. Beyond that, who you must serve depends on which people and agencies, if any, are involved in your child's life. For example, you may need to serve:
- the child's guardian ad litem attorney;
- Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS);
- Office of Recovery Services (ORS) or other state agencies that are involved with the child;
- the Native American tribe that this child is a member of or is eligible for membership in.
To serve ORS, DCFS or another state agency, serve the assistant attorney general who represents the agency. For more information, see our webpage on Serving Papers.
Be sure to take the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights form with you to the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will call you to the witness stand, have you take an oath to tell the truth, and ask you questions. The judge must decide whether you are signing the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights freely and voluntarily and whether it is in the child's best interest to allow you to relinquish your parental rights. The judge will ask you to sign the form in front of the judge. The judge will ask all of the people and agencies who were served with the petition and who are present at the hearing whether they have any evidence to offer. For more information, see our webpage on Going to Court.
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order
Termination of parental rights is not automatic. Even if your petition is not opposed, the judge has to decide whether termination is in your child's best interests. The judge will not order termination of parental rights if the judge decides that your purpose is to avoid your financial support obligations to your child.
What if I can't come to the hearing?
If you can't be at the hearing, you can ask the judge to appoint another juvenile or district court judge in Utah or another state, or some other person (such as a lawyer or social worker) to take your Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights. This means that you must appear before that appointed judge or other person and answer the questions that the juvenile judge would have asked.
Be sure to take the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights form with you to the hearing. The appointed judge or other person must certify that you have read the document, understand it, and have signed it freely and voluntarily. If the judge appoints anyone other than another judge to consider your Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights, your signature must be countersigned by a notary or by two people who are not members of your immediate family. Once the Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights is properly signed, you must file the original with the court in which you filed the Petition.
All forms necessary to relinquish and terminate parental rights to a non-Indian child.
- Checklist - PDF | Word
- Petition to Terminate Parental Rights upon Voluntary Relinquishment - PDF | Word
- Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights - PDF | Word
- Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Order - PDF | Word
- Fee Waiver
- Filing Procedures
- Finding an Attorney
- Free Legal Clinics
- Going to Court
- Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 United States Code Sections 1911-1913 (law.cornell.edu)
- Serving Papers
- Utah Code Section 78A-6-514 (Voluntary relinquishment of parental rights law)
- Utah Code Section 78B-6-124 (Who may take consents and relinquishments)